Categories
Podcasts

Dogs are the key to freedom

Diego

The most recent episode of the Reply-All podcast was a call-in show. It’s also the second of their shows recorded since the COVID-19 pandemic started and both presenters are recording from their own homes.

One of the callers was Zorro, calling from Paris. He’s living with his girlfriend and parents and they’re in lockdown. Nobody is allowed out except in certain circumstances and one of those is to walk the dog.

Apparently dogs are getting plenty of walking these days. They’re very popular! 🙂

Categories
Ireland

Is Ireland prepared?

The next few weeks are going to be absolutely awful for Ireland. Of course we’re not prepared. The HSE is doing everything they can but they’ve been underfunded for many years. This is what it’s like in Italy right now. If you’re not scared you should be.

There was a short interview with Dr Catherine Motherway, Intensive care physician at UH Limerick on Prime Time yesterday. It’s an important reminder about how under resourced the health services are in this country.

We have half the European average of ICU beds. That’s half what the Italians have per capita.

“You don’t want to get the virus”
“We MUST treat each other like pariahs”

Keep your kids in the house. Don’t let them mix with their friends.

While this post is about Ireland, I bet most countries have under resourced health services so the message is the same. Stay at home. The virus is all around you already and you don’t know it.

Categories
Ireland

I was in a crowded room

A few weeks ago I was. Just thinking about it now fills me with dread. I think the last time I was in a crowded room was at the last Blarney Photography Club meeting and that’s when I first heard that a case of COVID19 was reported in Cork. Following an excellent presentation by Ann Francis of Cork Camera Club, Fergal came into the room and told us that someone suffering with COVID19 was in Cork University Hospital (CUH). It does not seem like just a week ago. We were reminded not to shake hands and avoid physical contact.

I’ve barely walked anywhere this week. Out with the dog in the morning for a quick walk around the park, and the same last thing at night.

The numbers shown in spreadsheets like the one Gavin Sheridan shared today are scary. This one presumes growth of 33% per day to April 3 in the US, UK and Ireland.

The Taoiseach mentioned 15,000 cases by the end of the month. That’s where this number came from. As Gavin said, numbers now are already locked in but if we stay apart we can play our part in slowing the spread of the virus.

From my home office at the back of the house I heard a yell from the front. Curious, I looked out a window and saw four boys who couldn’t be more than 12 years old talking and bouncing a ball on a hurley as they unhurriedly walked down the middle of the road. Too close lads, too close..

Ireland doesn’t have enough ICU beds. “Once you come to the ICU one in five patients in my intensive care unit lose their lives”

And then there are these idiots. Stay away from people.

Leaving cert and Junior cert oral and practical exams have been cancelled. I read elsewhere that everyone to get 100%, which means everyone passes Irish this year since it’s 40% of the final mark.

Emergency COVID19 legislation was passed today (only 50 TDs were allowed in the Dáil to ensure social distancing).

F*ck the bosses of GameStop for staying open.

Matt’s right, it’s physical distancing, not social distancing. We’re social animals. You

This is great, Judge Dredd Case Files 05 is currently free. Thanks Robin for sharing that.

not enough physical distancing

And then there’s the convoy of military trucks carrying coffins to another city in Italy for cremation because of the number of deaths. Heartbreaking.

Mini Metro and other games are free this week. There’s a bunch free on itch.io too. Check out this Reddit thread for more.

Affinity Photo is giving a 90 day free trial of all their software, with a 50% sale too. I would really like to try Designer!

I’m slowly getting used to the stress of living this way. I stayed off Twitter and Facebook more today. Any cough or sneeze is cause for alarm but the other bugs are still floating around. My wife is great, my son is obsessed with gaming and can play with his friends in virtual worlds online but it’s taking it’s toll on us. I’m looking forward to going for a drive somewhere by the sea tomorrow, hopefully where there won’t be anyone else.

Categories
Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day 2020

This year the festival is cancelled because of COVID-19, but it was a busy day nonetheless as Gavan Reilly summarises:

That didn’t stop people all around the country holding their own parades and singing to the neighbours! I’ve added a selection I found on Twitter to the end of this post, but first this. Treasa is back blogging so go look at today’s and yesterday’s posts on her blog at windsandbreezes.org. She reminded me that my wife took a photo of people queuing to get into Tesco yesterday.

The queue to get into Tesco Paul Street, Cork yesterday. Credit: Jacinta O Caoimh.

In other news, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will give a televised address in about twenty minutes on RTE1 (on Radio 1 too) and Virgin Media One.

Edit: watch the speech here.

Continue reading “St. Patrick’s Day 2020”
Categories
Ireland

Social distancing in Blarney

Everything is local, but everything is also global now. The world feels a lot smaller.

There’s one topic of conversation everywhere now and that’s the coronavirus (WB), SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) which causes the COVID-19 disease. It feels like Europe and North America sleep walked into this, ignoring what was happening in China until it was too late.

This is the first in a maybe series of blog posts that I want to publish for the me in ten years time. For the time when this is all over and some sense of normality has resumed.

Throughout the first week of March companies started telling their employees to work from home. March 2nd, Google told staff in Dublin to do so.

The first meme I saw about the virus

The first reported case (and 7th in the country) of COVID-19 in Cork was in the CUH on Thursday 5th of March. Many felt the Irish Government were slow to react to the crisis.

However last Thursday afternoon, an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced (WB) that schools and other public buildings would be closing at 6pm that day until March 29th. The St. Patrick’s Day Festival would be cancelled. He requested that people practise social distancing, keeping at least 1 meter away from other people. People should stay in their homes. Kids should not mix with the kids in other families. Don’t go visiting grand parents.

Homework was assigned for the 2 weeks, I’m sure much to the dismay of all the kids in my son’s class.

Matt published his great post on distributed work and began it by saying,

This is not how I envisioned the distributed work revolution taking hold.

Matt Mullenweg, Coronavirus and the Remote Work Experiment No One Asked For

Beau followed a few days later with a comprehensive blog post about the tools that Automattic uses. I don’t think he missed anything. If you’re interested in distributed work you’ll love this post.

Gavin Sheridan made his COVID19 Twitter list public on March 6th.

Shoppers went mad buying toilet rolls and pasta. Lines for the cash registers over the weekend snaked all around stores. We were told that shops would maintain their supply lines and remain open but in other countries shops are now closed so people are worried.

A consultant respiratory paediatrician, Dr Muireann Ní Chroínín CUH had this to say on March 13th:

“I hope you all stay safe during this difficult time . The children will get through this no problem . Paediatric hospitals are empty in Italy at present after 3 weeks of school closure as the usual viruses stopped circulating . Remember with corona children are vectors not victims . In most epidemics young children are the transmitters . Therefore for school closure to be effective it’s really important that the kids aren’t mixing with other kids while out of school . They will give it to each other silently pass it on to our loved ones. What we do now will contribute to how this develops in cork . Avoid situations that the children will interact . If the community respond to this it will shut it down more than anything we do in hospital . From my experiences in the hospital this last week I would say that corona virus is closer to all of us than we realise and the degrees of separation for all of us is getting narrower . I’m not that good at social media but if this could be shared as widely as possible with parents in cork it will help. This messsage needs to go viral to stop the virus .”

Dr Muireann Ní Chroínín, consultant respiratory paediatrician CUH.

The “wash your hands” mantra was and is still being repeated. There are two numbers to care about. The reported numbers of infections, and the real number. It’s impossible to know the real number. Many with minor symptoms won’t contact their doctor, or maybe even know they have the virus but they’ll still be infectious. There might be 10 times or 100 times the number of infected people in your area. Most countries are trying to slow the spread of the virus by flattening the curve as described here (WB).

The famous Cheltenham races still went ahead in the UK on March 10th. Thousands of Irish people travelled over there, rubbing shoulders and exchanging coughs and sneezes in the enclosed space there. They arrived back to demands they isolate themselves for fear of infecting their families but the Government said no need if they don’t have symptoms perhaps forgetting that people are contagious before they have symptoms ..

Despite the partial lockdown of the country, pubs and restaurants remained open. Over the weekend pubs did a roaring trade prompting the Government to call for their closure from last night. Bars were still open until midnight.

We walked around Blarney on Saturday evening. Pubs and restaurants were open but they didn’t look too busy. People were eating at tables but were well spaced. Christy’s Bar was quiet with people sitting in small groups apart from each other.

Centra in Blarney has a spray and paper to decontaminate trolleys and baskets.

On Sunday morning the Feed The Heroes (WB) fundraiser was started to send food to hospital staff around the country. By that evening they had raised more than €24,000 and right now the gofundme (WB) stands at €73,916!

Most countries are putting some sort of lockdown in place. The UK appears to be doing the opposite, allowing the virus to spread through the population to build herd immunity. Days later they urged older people to isolate themselves for up to 4 months, but life seemed to go on as normal over there. Irish people were perplexed at our neighbour’s (in)actions. However, I’ve just read that Boris Johnson wants British people to avoid social contact and work from home so hopefully sense will prevail.

Unfortunately there are still horrible people about. A doctor finishing their 14th day working in a Cork hospital came out to find his bike stolen. Luckily he was inundated with offers (screenshot) to replace the bike and it ends well.

A Tweet on Saturday from Italy showed the difference a few weeks can make. The local paper had one and a half pages of obituaries. Friday’s paper had ten pages dedicated to them. That’s what we all fear could be in store for us.

On Sunday my wife and I needed to get out for a walk. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! Down by the River Martin we went and I have never seen so many families and small groups of people. Everyone was in good form but we all kept our distance and it was great to bump into friends down there, even if we did converse at a distance.

It’s surreal being outside. Whatever the number of reported COVID-19 cases there must be an order of magnitude more cases. Advice has been that it is already all around you in the community and you should act like you already have it but don’t want to give it to someone else. That attitude tends to colour your vision of even a solitary figure walking down an empty street.

Tonight the pubs are closed in Blarney. I think the only restaurant open is the Lantern House, maybe for take away food?

The latest news I’ve seen is that an Irish developed kit might be available in a week that can confirm infection in 15 minutes. Of course someone was bound to perpetuate the stereotype of the drunken Irishman with this comment

I think it’s hilarious that I can only remember seeing Ireland in the news twice in my recent memory.

3/15/2020 – Pubs in Ireland asked to close due to Coronavirus.

3/16/2020 – Irish developed testing kit to confirm Coronavirus in 15 minutes.

I was feeling optimistic about a vaccine after reading this post, and the news about the kit above is great to help fight it but this video where Joe Rogan interviews Michael Osterholm, an expert in infectious disease epidemiology about the virus has got me down again. Even washing hands may do little to stop you getting the virus, but it’s still very important to do just that.

The economic cost of the virus is biting. It’s estimated that 140,000 may have lost their jobs in less than a week.

Just as I hit Publish I saw that XKCD posted a new comic and it resonates with me. My poor mind.

I really shouldn’t hit Publish so quickly should I? A Buzzfeed article says the UK Government is reversing their earlier strategy!

In this scenario, the Imperial College team predicted as many as 250,000 deaths in Britain.

“In the UK, this conclusion has only been reached in the last few days,” the report explained, due to new data on likely intensive care unit demand based on the experience of Italy and Britain so far.

“We were expecting herd immunity to build. We now realise it’s not possible to cope with that,” professor Azra Ghani, chair of infectious diseases epidemiology at Imperial, told journalists at a briefing on Monday night.

A suppression strategy, along the lines of the approach adopted by the Chinese authorities, “aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely”.

It requires “a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members”, and “may need to be supplemented by school and university closures”.

An “intensive intervention package” will have to be “maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more)”, the report said, painting an extraordinary picture of what life could be like in the UK for the next year and a half.

You may have noticed that I didn’t embed tweets or the Youtube video above. I also employed the Wayback Machine for as many links as I could. I didn’t embed because doing so exposes you, dear visitor, to cookie tracking by those companies, and the Wayback Machine ensures that I’ll have a snapshot of what we’re seeing online right now, even in the far distant future!

Categories
Development

Coloured svn diff

The output of svn diff can sometimes be hard to read, especially when there are a lot of changes to read through.

I also realise that you might think I’m a dinosaur for still using svn because git has nicely coloured diffs out of the box but talk to any WordPress plugin developer and they’ll have to use svn at some stage. On the other hand, if you’ve used svn for years you may not even realise you need coloured diffs.

I found a neat solution to that. Pipe the output of svn into colordiff.

This Bash function, svndiff, should be placed in the .bashrc in your home directory (or .zshrc or whatever shell you use, it’ll probably be similar)

function svndiff () {
    svn diff $@ | colordiff | less -R;
}

Log out and log back in or do source ~/.bashrc from the command line to get it working.

Categories
Twitter

New Tweet notifications for …

A few months ago my Twitter notification icon lit up announcing one new event.

Tapping into it I saw something odd.

“New Tweet notifications for” was a new one.

I had no idea what setting enabled this abomination. Every time I visited the site or opened the app I’d see a new notification. Over the months I learned to ignore the bell if there was only one event.

I had to presume not many people had this problem because I didn’t see anyone else complaining about it. From time to time I searched again trying to find out how to disable it.

So it continued until this morning when I went searching again and found this Reddit thread. The last comment is exactly what was going on:

I found a solution.
You click each individual profile on that “list” and turn off the bell!
No idea how they all got on there in the first place but I sanity is restored again/

jameswheeler90

I do not remember ever clicking the bell on any Twitter account.

I went through a few of the accounts unchecking the bell but discovered that there must be quite a few accounts like this because I kept getting notifications for new tweets.

I thought this was going to take a while but then I went searching again and found this article describing how to turn on notifications so I jumped on it!

Right inside Twitter settings, buried deep in Settings and privacy > Notifications > Push notifications is a setting I must have enabled called “Tweets from people you follow”. Disable this and your notifications are your own again. Do this on a mobile device as on the web you have to enable Push Notifications and your browser may not support them.

My notifications have been blessedly quiet ever since. Not one single reply, like or “new tweet” notification and I like that. 🙂

Categories
C64

Retrograde Music

This tweet reminded me that Retrograde had great loading music.

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the whole tune and the odd stops are jarring but it’s worth it. Steve Rowlands was a master on the C64.

Categories
Games

Did E.T. come to Ireland?

I don’t remember E.T. making a big impression on my life in 1982. I never saw the movie back then, and a couple of years ago watched half of it before falling asleep in front of the telly. I guess you had to be there when it was first released?

Ireland in the 1980s was a country in recession. I certainly knew nobody with a 2600 console so we were spared the abomination that was the official game of the movie. While we had some sort of Pong clone in the early ’80s we moved away to “proper” computers like the Speccy and C64 after that.

Nonetheless, it was an important game. It helped bring about the collapse of Atari and the video game market in the US!

99% Invisible just featured an episode by podcast Sidedoor about E.T. The Videogame and it’s enthralling. You can hear all about how bad it was, the story of it’s development from game developer Howard Scott Warshaw, and finally to his reaction that people are still obsessed with the game all these years later.

Categories
Email

Opt-Out of all the spam!

I’ve been getting a ton of CBD expo spam for months. Spamassassin picks up most of it, and Gmail collects the rest in the Spam folder.

However, today one got through so I scrolled down to the unsub link and saw it was sendgrid. I recognise them from previously reporting spam. I have no idea if it made a difference but I like to think it did.

So, despite the prevailing advice that you don’t unsubscribe from spam I clicked unsubscribe. I opted-out of that email, and then I saw the greyed out “View Opt Out Preferences” button.

That’s not exactly the friendliest thing to do, making it look like it isn’t active but I clicked on it and discovered a treasure trove!

This spammer has been busy, but Sendgrid allows you to unsubscribe from them all in one click.

“But Donncha, now the spammer knows your email is real!”

Yeah, it’s been inundated with spam for years already. I’m planning on shutting it down sooner or later anyway because I’ve moved most of my logins to service specific email aliases for easy tracking of spam sources. It’s paid off a couple of times too.